Working as a caterer during a choir event nearly five years ago, Ben Corlett never thought the night would alter his future.|
By accident, it did.
A discussion with Sherrard assistant wrestling coach Dan Mizaur ended with Corlett jokingly agreeing to trade basketball for grappling. Later that night, Corlett realized it was no joke.
And the rest is history.
"I love it," the Sherrard 285-pound junior said. "It's the best sport out there."
Within a year of the switch, Corlett won an Illinois Elementary School Association state champion. Halfway through his junior year, he carries a 20-3 record and Class 1A state ranking.
Not bad considering he still is a novice at the sport.
"He's really wrestling well," Sherrard coach Jeff Garrett said. "I thought he could be this good this year."
What helped Corlett reach this point was a learning process that featured 23 losses in his freshman and sophomore years. He did earn 26 victories as a freshman, but could not advance out of the regionals since Alleman's Alex Wilson, Kewanee's Cal Breedlove and Riverdale's Mitch Keppy took the three sectional bids.
All three eventually reached the state meet.
A year later, Corlett advanced to the sectional before being eliminated with losses to Byron's Reid Sealby and Sterling Newman's Jake Walls.
Sealby won the state title and Walls took fifth.
"It hurt," Corlett said of the postseason endings. "But it's inspiration and motivation."
Facing those opponents consistently the previous two years helped Corlett get where he is today.
"Immensely," Corlett said.
The next step is reaching that elite level.
Corlett is rated third in the latest Illinois Best Weekly Class 1A poll, providing evidence that he's a legitimate contender for a state title. This weekend will give Corlett another chance to see if he is near a championship level at the Bob Mitton-Orion Invitational.
Included in the 285-pound bracket is top-ranked Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley-Fisher junior Josh Wallick.
"There's nothing stopping me now," Corlett said. "I'm going for a state championship now."
Facing that competition gives him the confidence needed to win in February.
"He's learned from that," Garrett said. "That's huge in his mindset right now."
Right now, he thinks about that often.
"It definitely builds you up and shows you where you're at," Corlett said. "But it gives you perspective and brings you to the ground."
All that makes Corlett a stronger wrestler. Basketball helps, too.
As a way to improve his conditioning, he still uses basketball drills he learned back in the day. One involves shooting foul shots. A miss means he runs.
"Other than that," Corlett said, "it's wrestling."
Doak out with shoulder injury: Alleman 182-pound junior Connor Doak suffered a right shoulder injury during the Princeton Invitational on Jan. 4. An initial diagnosis lists Doak as having a dislocated shoulder.
Doak had a magnetic resonance image last week and is expected to receive the final diagnosis on Wednesday. He said doctors have told him the injury requires four to six weeks of healing. Four weeks means he can participate in next month's Class 1A Sherrard Regional.
"Hoping for good news," Doak said. "It feels good right now. It's weak and unstable, but my range of motion is coming back."
Doak missed the previous two seasons with knee injuries. Until last Friday, he was healthy and on the mat for the first time since a decorated junior-high career.
"One unlucky break," Doak said. "It's extremely frustrating to not go a whole year without getting hurt."
Sherrard hosting alumni night: During its West Central Conference dual against Rockridge on Jan. 24, Sherrard is hosting an alumni night.
Any state medalist or state qualifier is invited to the match and will be admitted free of charge. The dual starts at 6 p.m.
This 'n' that: Adarios Jones' repeat 285-pound title at the Geneseo Invitational puts him in elite Moline company. Only Tony Catour (2001-02) and A.J. Lavender (2001-03) have won multiple titles at the meet. ... Kewanee's Mark Breedlove won his third consecutive Kewanee Invitational championship on Saturday. Breedlove pinned his way to the 138-pound title, wrestling a total of 2 minutes, 49 seconds in three matches. ... The Riverdale-Sherrard dual postponed on Dec. 20 because of inclement weather is rescheduled for Jan. 25. The dual now will be at Sherrard with a 6 p.m. start. ... Erie-Prophetstown carries a 4-0 Three Rivers Conference mark into its league dual against Amboy on Thursday.
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